Statement before the Vote by Sweden and Kuwait at the UN Security Council Adoption on Syria
Statement before the Vote, delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait, at the UN Security Council Adoption on Syria, 24 February 2018, New York.
Sweden and Kuwait earlier this week put forward a resolution to respond to the desperate calls from the UN and the humanitarian community in Syria for a cessation of hostilities for an initial period of 30 days, in order to allow for humanitarian relief.
We have been working intensely with all Council Members to operationalize the concrete requests from the UN, the humanitarian community, and above all the civilian population on the ground. We have done our absolute utmost to accommodate Council members' concerns. It is now time for this Council to unanimously shoulder its responsibility and show that meaningful action is possible.
The key components in our draft resolution are a nationwide cessation of hostilities for at least 30 days, weekly UN humanitarian aid convoys to all areas in need and immediate emergency medical evacuations. The UN convoys and evacuation teams are ready to go.
This draft resolution also calls for the immediate lifting of sieges of populated areas, including Eastern Ghouta. It reiterates its demand, reminding in particular the Syrian authorities, that all parties have an obligation to act in accordance with international law, to protect civilians and hospitals and other medical facilities.
This draft resolution makes an exception for military operations directed against ISIL, Al Qaida and Al Nusra Front and other terrorist groups as designated by the Security Council. This does in no way relieve the parties to the conflict in Syria from upholding their obligations under international law at all times, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.
This draft resolution is not a comprehensive peace deal on Syria – its aim is purely humanitarian. There are already ceasefire agreements in force for the areas where fighting has escalated the most. They need to be complied with. There are existing monitoring mechanisms that can be utilized. The role of this Council is to push the parties to the conflict to comply with the proposed cessation of hostilities in order to urgently enable need alleviation of suffering for the people of Syria.
If this resolution is adopted today, it can deescalate violence, save lives, alleviate suffering and break the deadlock on humanitarian access and sieges.
Since the first call for a cessation of hostilities, the situation has gotten dramatically worse, particularly in Eastern Ghouta, as we have heard from the Secretary General and from Under Secretary General Mark Lowcock. Seven years of war, and the situation for innocent civilians in Syria has never been worse. But we have an opportunity to turn things around today to avert the disaster unfolding before our eyes.
The resolution before you represents a resolute and very urgent attempt for this Council to take decisive and meaningful action. Today, we count on each and every one of you to do the right thing.